Spring farmers markets conjure images of heaping towers of cabbage and carrots alongside cartons of hand-gathered eggs. But as the Transylvania Farmers Market in Brevard gears up for another season of prolific produce, new and established vendors are adding high-end foods to the mix.
“People like variety and they definitely want more specialty and gourmet things — things that you don’t find in the store,” says Tammy Woods, founder of Do More Bars. Woods has offered her gourmet, gluten-free fruit and nut bars at the Transylvania Farmers Market for the past seven years.
Like many local farmers markets, the Transylvania market has seen an increase in value-added products (an industry term for specialty foods that use whole ingredients to make packaged goods, such as turning strawberries into jam, tomatoes into salsa, or brown rice into cereal bars).
The Transylvania Farmers Market was important to the evolution of Do More Bars, explains Woods. She would bring samples to the market and ask customers for their honest opinions. “They’re really good at giving feedback. If I tried a new flavor, I’d let them be my taste testers.”
Woods will try a new approach at this year’s market. She is starting a venture called The Happy Palate, which will offer warm breakfast foods and pre-packaged lunches and dinners that customers can take home.
She says to expect gourmet favorites such as feta quiches with greens, jelly-filled biscuits, stuffed bell peppers, and bruschetta. (She plans to sell the Do More Bars business in order to focus on her new venture, but will continue to offer the bars at this year’s market.)
The Happy Palate is in synch with other high-end food vendors that are attracted to the Transylvania Farmers Market. This year’s vendor list includes several gourmet items produced within 100 miles of Brevard, including artisan balsamic vinegar, fresh microgreens, specialty relishes, and quail eggs.
The market is ideal for attracting new customers who have an interest in specialty foods, says Woods. “It’s really good for exposure,” she explains. “It really creates a comfort level and sense of community when you’re buying from your neighbor.”
The Transylvania Farmers Market organizes special events throughout the spring, summer, and fall, including a Mother’s Day celebration, a local-food festival, and a farm fair.
“It’s not just a market in the morning. It’s a place for the community to gather and to shop and to socialize,” says Woods. “It’s a must-see.”